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Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

Thinking about ways in which I can display my body I started to think about ways in which my body displays itself to me. My immediate thoughts were breathing, heart beating, seeing, speaking. Thinking about more personal ways in which my body displays itself to me I considered aspects of my body and personality. This brought me to Alice In Wonderland Syndrome. This is a syndrome I recently discovered I have. Ever since I can remember at some point in the day I will get strange sensations such as feeling my body majorly alter in size, having mild visual and audio hallucinations. Researching this syndrome I realise I do hold quite a few of the other symptoms.

Official Definition:

Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a rare neurological disorder characterized by distortions of visual perception, the body image, and the experience of time. People may see things smaller than they are, feel their body alter in size or experience any of the syndrome’s numerous other symptoms.

Initial notes about AIWS in sketchbook:

The black and white scans of brains with AIWS had me thinking of brain waves and imagining what the inside of my brain looks like when I’m experiencing symptoms of AIWS.

I created a short abstract video of what I imagine the inside of my brain looks like, also created this in black and white and inverted the colours so it replicates the photos of the brain scan in some way.

It is assumed Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice In Wonderland had AIWS as he had reported having hallucinations along with migraines in his diaries. Since the technical term for this syndrome is a visual migraine along with the themes in the book I agree with this assumption.

Researching more artists who may have had this disorder I came across the 19th century artist Käthe Kollwitz. I felt an instant connection towards her as first of all she’s was a successful female artist from the early 19th century which is very unusual as women were rarely recognised within society as anything but mothers and wife’s better yet artists. She also created figurative sculptures, drawings and paintings which is very alike to the kind of work I create. Lastly her work has running themes of feminist issues including the hardship of women and children during WWI and the struggles women had to go through to be seen as part of society.

Looking more into Kollwitz I cam across her diaries. These alike to Lewis Carroll’s diaries also include descriptions of AIWS. She describes her drawings being more about her distorted perception of figures and how she perceives the world and society. You can see this distorted perception through her inaccurate drawings of people where their hands may be bigger than their head or their body may be smaller than the chair. I find this very interesting as I am moving towards creating figurative art less and less about feminist issues. I want to play with how I can display my body, using my body as the sculpture and the tool, and for the distorted figurative aspect to be the main focus.

I find it very interesting both Lewis Carroll and Kathe Kollwitz include their symptoms of AIWS in their diaries. This inspired me to begin to write little daily thoughts in my sketchbooks to give my point of view of not just the syndrome but of life.

My personal diaries:

Creating these daily thoughts along with reading some of the diaries of Lewis Carroll and Kollwitz I wanted to create a more physical way in which I can share my experience of AIWS with the viewer. This brought me to filming myself when feeling my body alter in size. Creating music that slowly gets more and more distorted recreating my personal experience of my surroundings going from normal to abstracted in a familiar form everyone can recognize.

Video of me feeling some symptoms of AIWS. Me playing the piano over the top. Piano music representing the distortion of reality as the music begins regular then becomes distorted.

The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski:

This sound-based piece I created reminds me of William Basinski’s ambient tape.

Definition of the piece:

The Disintegration Loops is a series of four albums by American avant-garde composer William Basinski released in 2002 and 2003. The recordings consist of tape loops that gradually deteriorated each time they passed the tape head, the unexpected result of Basinski’s attempt to transfer his earlier recordings to digital format.


Taking photos of my body appearing to alter in size.

Painting and printing on canvas. Experimenting with using grids within mark-making as this is something I like to use in photography series. In each filled-out section of the grid in this piece, there is an aspect of my body including words from my diary and body prints. I created small thumbprints that appear to be body prints along with larger handprints, experimenting with another way in which I can show the feeling of altering in size.